US snaps up Swedish perovskite thin film equipment maker

US snaps up Swedish perovskite thin film equipment maker

Business news |
By Nick Flaherty

First Solar is to buy perovskite thin film equipment maker Evolar in Sweden in a deal worth $80m that expands its R&D into Europe

Evolar was founded in 2019 by veterans of the copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) industry and develops manufacturing equipment for tandem solar technology using perovskite thin films. Evolar has produced several thin film efficiency records, including the current 23.6 percent world record for CIGS research solar cells, working closely with leading European research institutions, including Uppsala University.

The acquisition is expected to accelerate the development of next-generation PV technology, including high-efficiency tandem devices, by integrating Evolar’s know-how with First Solar’s existing research and development (R&D) streams, intellectual property portfolio, and expertise in developing and commercially scaling thin film PV.

Evolar’s laboratory in Uppsala, Sweden, will continue to conduct research activity, marking the first time that First Solar will have an R&D facility in Europe. 30 of Evolar’s R&D staff will move to First Solar, working with the company’s team of about 60 scientists at its advanced research technology centre in Santa Clara, California, and the development teams in Perrysburg, Ohio. 

The initial deal is worth $38m with $42m to be paid subject to certain technical milestones being achieved in the future.

“With this acquisition, along with our new innovation centre in the United States and longstanding commitment to R&D, we are investing not just in First Solar’s future, but the future of solar energy,” said Mark Widmar, chief executive officer of First Solar.

The $370m R&D innovation centre in Perrysburg, Ohio, aims to accelerate the development and production of advanced thin film PV and is scheduled to be completed in 2024.

“We anticipate that high efficiency tandem PV modules will define the future, speeding up decarbonization by allowing us to convert sunlight into clean electricity more efficiently. This acquisition supplements our existing R&D streams with expertise in thin film semiconductors that complement CadTel. We expect that it will accelerate our efforts to develop tandem technology that continues our commitment to ultra-low carbon, responsibly produced solar,” said Widmar.

“In addition to significantly expanding our capacity for advanced research, we are pleased to extend our R&D footprint to Europe. By connecting our advanced research lab in California with Europe and building the Western Hemisphere’s largest PV R&D innovation centre in Ohio, we are effectively establishing and leading a uniquely transatlantic effort to develop and commercialize the next generation of photovoltaics.”

“The future of PV clearly lies in thin film semiconductors, and few other solar technology companies are as well placed to develop and commercialize future solar technologies as First Solar is. We are thrilled about the opportunity that lies ahead and look forward to welcoming the Evolar team to First Solar,” said said Markus Gloeckler, chief technology officer at First Solar.


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